Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Reliability of web info

A recent article on eSchool News Online discusses concerns of educators about the reliability of web information. (See “Reliability of web challenges educators.”) The article raises valid points but does not discuss some options that are available to educators.


Students and adults are using web based information for research, often to the point where traditional paper based resources are not used very often. I know that I am guilty of this, if guilty is the right word.

I tend to use traditional resources, but the online versions. In our district we subscribe to eLibrary, which provides us with full text articles from hundreds of periodicals, newspapers and books. This includes Newsweek, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and UPI. They also have an online dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, almanac and atlas. Other publications like TimeSports IllustratedUS News & World ReportNational GeographicGrolier’s OnlineCNN, and CNN Student News are also available online. In North Dakota we have access to many other resources such as Medline & ERIC through the Online Dakota Information NetworkAmazon is even allowing you to Search Inside the Book for certain terms or facts. And the Gutenberg Project provides the full text of many classical books that are out of copyright as well as many other resources that are in the public domain.

We just need to make sure that students (and adults) understand what are considered reliable resources. I remember when a presenter gave each person in the room a book from their personal library and gave us five minutes to prepare a summary. Some were fiction, some were reference books, some were non-fiction, some were textbooks and others were biographies. In most cases the person responsible for the summary of the book listed the publisher, the original and latest publication dates, the author and their credentials, and other facts to support the credibility of the book. How often do we ask students to do this with their sources?

Teachers can also prepare lists of web sites that students could use and make them available on a handout or web site or through a resource like FurliKeepBookmarks or del.icio.us. I am currently using Furl to bookmark my recent finds, and then they are organized into our curriculum links and thematic linksWebQuests are often used to define a problem and provide resources to research the problem without “wandering” around the Internet.

We have a district wide subscription to netTrekker, a service that hand picks web sites for educational purposes and also correlates them to state standards.

Another tool that is useful in handling the amount of information found on the web is Grokker. This organizes search results into categories and displays the results in a graphical Venn diagram that allows teachers and students to “drill down” to essential information.
I don’t feel that using the Internet for research is something to be concerned about. There is a lot of great reference materials on the net that is easy for students and adults to access. We just need to make sure that we make people aware that they have to be careful about the resources they use and also help guide them to the “good stuff.”

Professional Development Resource

A recent e-mail from eSchoolNews had the subject line “Answers for all of your software questions” and promotes a new addition to theirProfessional Development Resource Center. This new addition that they are promoting is Atomic Learning.


If you have not seen this resource, you should check it out. There is an offer for a free trial and you might have some time to check it out over the holidays.
We have been using Atomic Learning in our district for over five years and keep expanding its use each year. It is a way to provide staff development 24/7, often to teachers who can’t fit scheduled workshops into their schedule.

Atomic Learning was started by a group of technology coordinators in the Minnesota area who wanted to help teachers and students learn to use software that is used in schools. For each software program they put together short video clips, usually 60 to 90 seconds long, each showing one topic such as inserting a picture into an iMovie, adjusting the color tone of a photo in Photoshop Elements, etc. And they made them available over the web.

They now have over 12,000 clips that cover Macintosh and Windows software programs such as Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, InDesign, AppleWorks, MS Word, MS Access, Excel, iMovie, MovieMaker 2, Dreamweaver, Flash, and Powerpoint.

They also have tutorials on school specific software such as Graph Club, eZedia QTI, Kid Pix, Inspiration, netTrekker, Media Blender, TimeLiner, and Geometer’s Sketchpad. Check out the entire list ofsoftware titles they support on their web site.

I use this resource when I want to quickly learn a new software program (eZedia QTI, MovieMaker 2, Garage Band). And they are continually adding new resources – I plan to go through their Photoshop Elements 3 tutorials over the holiday break.

I teach an online course in Advanced Web Site Design for our local university. I have my students use the Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash and Photoshop Elements tutorials from Atomic Learning. Each semester the students rate these tutorials as the best resource they had – better than the Dreamweaver Bible (the required text) and Internet resources I provide them.

If you like this type of resource for software, you should also check outLynda.com. Their tutorials are aimed more at the business user and the subscription cost is more expensive, but the tutorials are very well done. We have subscribed to Lynda.com for two people, myself and our graphic designer, and have found it very helpful.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Video resources for the classroom



One of this weeks top stories on the eSchool News web site is aboutroyalty-free videos available to schools through Discovery Education’s united streaming. This is a great resource, allowing teachers to access educational videos “on demand.”

I have been in education long enough to remember ordering science films from our “state film library” each spring and making lesson plans based on when they would arive in the mail. The films arrived on 16mm film reals and had to be returned within a few days of arrival.
Now, using unitedstreaming, a teacher could bring up a video clip dealing with earthquakes, volcanos or rainforests within minutes of a “teachable moment.”

In case you are not aware of this, one school in each “non-participating” public school district can obtain a free subscription to unitedstreaming. A 30 day free trial is also available to any teacher who wants to check it out.

We obtained the free subscription for one of our middle schools and since then have expanded this to four elementary schools. My hope is to get all our schools using this resource.

My browser of choice – Firefox

On the eSchool News web site one of the top news stories is aboutFirefox: the new browser contender.
Three reasons given for the current interest in this browser are security, tabs and similarity in Mac and Windows versions. These are three good reasons to make the switch (which I did several months ago). All our new installations include Firefox as our primary browser, even though we still install Explorer and Safari.

There are several other reasons to switch to Firefox. It seems to be faster in most situations. You can place several bookmarks in a folder in the toolbar and open them all up into seperate tabs at one time – a nice way to start out the day opening those sites you check daily.

Firefox also has support for RSS feeds, allowing you to monitor blogs and news sources (including the eSchool News RSS feed) through your “favorites” or bookmarks. All you have to do is mouse over the bookmark and get the top news stories or recent posts to show up in an extended window.

Firefox is a stripped down version of the Mozilla Suite, without the e-mail, newsgroup, chat and web design features. If you want a mail program to run on your Windows machine instead of Outlook, check out Thunderbird. (I still use OS X Mail on my Macs but made the switch on my Windows machine.) Reasons to make this switch include speed, ease of blocking pop-ups site by site, and security (mainly from viruses). It also has a feature that allows you to save a search as a mail folder, and any time you click on that folder the search will be executed and the matching e-mail messages will be displayed. Firefox also allows you to monitor RSS feeds.

A new calendar application, Sunbird, is currently being developed, with the target being users of Firefox and Thunderbird.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Libraries, Knowledge and Blogs

The Library Of Congress is doing a series of lectures on “Managing knowledge and creativity in the Digital Context” that will be shown live on C-SPAN. There will be one lecture each month for the next six months featuring the nation’s top thinkers on the Digital Future. They will also be available in archived format at
http://www.c-span.org/congress/digitalfuture.asp
in rtsp (Real Time Streaming Protocol) format. Both Quicktime and RealPlayer support rtsp, but you can check out http://rtsp.org if you can’t view the video.

In the first of this series, David Weinberger, former senior internet adviser to the Howard Dean campaign, discussed how Weblogs work & their value in gathering knowledge. I took notes and have included them in part of this post.

Some of the more interesting comments, especially about the impact and use of blogs in education are pulled out and placed before the full transcript.
Q from e-mail:
What advantage do blogs have over more traditional forms of information gathering? What guidelines will be put into place to make sure blogs are rich in content and are worth reading?

A: They are distinguished from other information gathering media — they aren’t about information gathering — they are primarily about people connected to other people in response to others reading them. It is about having other people read them.
Controls in place – none – this is really, really important. The control in weblogs is about other people finding you interesting.
Q from audience:
How do you feel the field of education may be changing because of blogging?

Museums are used more than every in education -
A by Robert Martin:
I would like to recast your question in terms of learning rather than education. The power of the blog is the way it empowers the development of self selecting communities of interest. This can be done at any age level. Substantial potential for supporting transfer of knowledge, learning at all stages of learning, and all stages of life, by the establishment of these self selecting communities of interest that dissolves the geographical barriers that have been the focus of education. Education, until recently, has been very geocentric, place centered. Now we face the prospect of having a global inter-connectivness that allows people to explore beyond their previous limitations of geography. How that plays out I have no idea. We are in for a real interesting ride.

A by David W:
It’s getting more interesting as education goes down the No Child Messed Around With line where testing becomes the primary objective it seems in too many of our schools. There has always been a problem with schools confusing education with filling up with facts. With the emphasis on testing it is getting much, much worse. We are still generally educating children towards taking tests and doing well as individuals while at the same time they are doing homework together using word processing and IM (instant messaging).

Blogs are being used in classrooms. Many are group blogs. In one of the best ones students are pulling in items off the news and commenting back and forth on it. What more could you want? They are doing this on their own. It’s extra credit without credit. People learning together.
A: Derrick de Kerckhove (1:17 into video)
I am fascinated by this question of education. I think it has major consequences with blogs and all the media children can use.
Changes three things at least.
1. Changes authority. Can read and question in the background. Teachers are very wary of this
2. Move to collaborative practice.
3. Build knowledge together.

A by D: Cannot rely on any blog to be trustworthy. In many ways I trust a collection of web logs more than I trust the media. They are self correcting. Frequently they go wrong, but they are self correcting.

Library of Congress � C-SPAN
Digital Future.
Welcome by Deanna Marcum � Library of Congress � Associate Librarian for Library Services
We all hear that the Internet changes everything.
Questions I have asked our staff. What must we do to be successful in the 21st Century?
How will the Library of the Future be as successful as that which we have so loved in the past. How will the Internet change the nature of our work?
Our mission: Make information accessible to as many people as possible.
6 months series: Managing knowledge and creativity in the Digital Context
1 lecture per month broadcast on C-SPAN featuring the best thinkers in this field.
Comments by Derrick de Kerckhove
Library of Congress� Kluge Center
Papamarkou Chair in Education
Oral culture – spoken word, nothing writtendown.
Written culture � create technology.
Electronic transfer of language started with the telegraph by combining language and electricity. An acceleration beyond anything we have ever seen before.
What is the consequence on electrifying the word?
Intro by Derrick de Kerckhove
David Weinberger
Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society – Fellow
Left brain, right brain, no brain on web site
Mr. Blog America
Helped Howard Dean gain recognition via his web log.
David Weinberger
�Blogs� & Knowledge

Everything is miscellaneous because everything actually is miscellaneous. We have always assumed knowledge stopped at the miscellaneous. Now we are beginning to find that knowledge begins with miscellaneous.

Methods of organizing came from the real world, and are limited with digital knowledge they are limited by the real world.

Knowledge is in trouble. It has had a nice run, but there are cracks starting to show.

Dan Rather was still on air when bloggers started asking questions about documents he was showing.

Blogs and e-mail are in your own voice. This is one reason they are so popular.

Wikipedia is a fantastic site. Sounds like a completely ridiculous experiment. It has worked!
Anybody can create an entry or edit an entry. Sounds like it is bound to draw misinformation. Over a million article so far, and is generally good and only going to get better.

Knowledge began with the Greeks. What they needed for their own benefit.

Plato said “knowledge is justified true beliefs” Over time the range of justification got tighter and tighter. Got narrowed.

Descartes “I think therefore I am.” 1650

Experts over a narrow bit of knowledge.
Extracted from human context.

Aristotle – asked questions like “what is it like to know what a robin is?”

There are 10 parts of knowledge.
1. What is it? (categorizing) – feathered biped
Gather together and split apart

2 premises of Aristotle
Knowledge ends where miscellaneous begins. Split laundry and lump together. Breaking down socks doesn’t go any further – weight makes no sense.

Knowledge and the world are the same. In 1876 – Dewey Decimal system. 10 categories, each with 100 numbers. Based on cultural context – 80 numbers for Christianity, 1 number for Judaism, Buddhism to the right of the decimal point. Why don’t they fix it? Books are in the real world – need to change all the labels on all the books in libraries. Then there would be arguments about how many numbers to give to each sub category. Not a solvable problem.

Now we are in the process of digitizing everything. A third order form of organizing knowledge.

1st order – symbolized by Betman Archives- 11 million photographs. Purchased by Bill Gates and moved to an underground cavern. -2 degrees to preserve them. The physical books.

2nd order – physical representation of books – card catalog. Can be organized differently than the books. Lot faster to walk through the card catalog to find something that walking through stacks of books.

3rd order – digital organizing

Splitting and lumping. Shirt pile or sock pile? Each item can only can go into one lump.
Neat classification schemes. Dewey Decimal system. Neat and clean.
Digital – links all over the place.
3rd. The person who owns the information owns the organization. Can’t go into a store and start organizing their “stuff” into different “piles.”

Digital – Can reorganize a store based on price or camera specs (megapixels).

4th type of changes – users can contribute to the information. Post opinion on product, post or photograph. Social tagging – help name people in photos. Add to richness of objects (photos).

Many people – in business of organizing information – instead of building a tree of categories in which everything fits – build ponds that have many different ways of being found. Library card to enriching that with info including authors biography and other things the author has written (done on Amazon.com) to personal info about author. Metadata is now part of the data. Make it easy to have users add to the data.

It’s happening already on the web.

Kenmore – negative example – using their site – looking for a new washer and dryer – flash intro about washer – professional site without any value – marketing – getting dry info and he wants to buy – wants to know if it will fit into his hole – finds it eight clicks in.

Went to Google – “Kenmore Maytag Discussion” got opinions of others looking/comparing same models. Doesn’t believe Kenmore’s site, but believes Jim’s comments. Only complain is that the buzzer was too loud. This is actual knowledge, imbedded in the human context. He speaks in the “human voice,” a real human being. Not just Jim but others comments about his opinions. Opposite of encyclopedia knowledge.

Then we have to talk about weblogs “blogs” daily journals easy to update, reverse …

Speak in our own voice, persistence (always there to read, not like e-mail).

Not just daily journals, they are talking about other blogs. Also provide “blog rolls” – other interesting blogs to read. Commercial sites would never do this – point people away from their blogs.

Some write several times a day. Must be willing to write badly or you would never post your writings. Informal writing. Readers know you are writing quickly and are not critical of grammar or spelling – they are forgiving.

Some of the value of the content is point away from yourself. This effects knowledge.

Subjectivity shows us our world as it affects us.

Objectivity is knowledge and facts.

We have blogs in conversation with each other. Can send people to authoritative sources, or can Google for a topic and find blogs that link to other blogs. A mess of links that nobody could every transverse, but can follow your interests through them.

*We* are able to do this. This is *ours.* A sense of joy.

Knowledge trees are in trouble. The dream of the universal tree to organize information is dead. Instead this web, this mess, tangle that is growing bottom up. Value comes from the fact that it can’t be encapsulated, growing without a plan, through links, based on what is important to us. An argument against 2500 years of providing categories.

Aristotle – Knowledge is only knowledge if it reflected how the world looked. That is exactly what we see happening here. This is a better representation of our world.

Thank you. 47:52 into the video.

Comments, questions, reflections.

Panelists.

Robert Martin – Institute of Museum & Library Services – Chairman

Support creation of a lot of digital content. People use this “stuff” in ways that they never imagined. They don’t find it through card catalogs. Capture info, bring it to their desktops, organize it to fit their needs, and repurpose the info. They put it together in a way that makes sense to them.

Need to reduce barriers in real world like we are doing in the digital world.

Photos – get local community involved – not just who is in the photo but what is the context of the photo – significance to community – draws in and creates a whole new sense of community by engaging the audience.

Erik Delfino – L of C – Technology Policies Directorate
What should Libraries be doing now to capture all this stuff that is going on out there?
Answer: As content gets digitized, this is a big part of the “bundle.”

Q: L of C has started a web archive.
A: A good thing to be doing.
Google is indexing 8 billion pages, but just a fraction of what is there. Tremendous value in what you are doing.
Questions from audience and viewers.

Q. Words of reassurance to historians who have depended on written records of one form or another.
A. Derrick de Kerckhove – Library of Congress Kluge Center Papamurkou Chair in Education. Map of dateline of history of Germany – navigate in a different way. History has moved from imposed order and big events to small details like the life of a village. Brings something more.

Authority on work of art or book will be more important.

When people learned to read and write they internalized information and privatized it. Western mind is challenged by electricity (transfer by technology) Moving from solid world to a liquid world.

“Isn’t the role of a blog is the first example of the first image of a connected identity rather than a private identity?”

“Identities have always been connected. They have always been what we do in public in relation to others.” The notion of a hardened self independent from the world is failing.

In the real world things were built to be independent of the world. Peer independence. It’s failing in the face of a new medium.

There’s nothing in the web space that wasn’t built by someone to do something or connect to something else.

The web is unavoidably social, in the way that we were meant to be but were able to avoid.

Why are you on the web unless you want to connect to other people?

The illusionary idea that selves are hardened M&M substances separated from everything else.. You can’t be on the web and support that idea. The Web exists because of the links.

The daily journal of a blog might not be important. The blog provides a list of things a person is interested in. “Joe Blog” The messy extension of your own identity is a new form of identity that we didn’t have before. We always knew about the self and the private self. We have a very different kind of relationship sticking up.

Answer by W. Much of that had been happening on the web anyway. What blogs add to it is the persistence. Links have always been the fundamental matter of the web, more than the content. Without the links there is literally no web. Blogs give individuals the chance to attach those links with persistence. That is a significant change.

Questions from audience:

Information gets constructed in different cultures in different ways. Asian cultures are more collective in the ways you structure identity. Are there Japanese blogs and what would they look like?

A by W: Also African blogs. Needs careful attention and I have no answer.

Q: Usenet is dead?

A: 70,000 topics still there. Google bought Deja News. Pushing it. Quite useful ways to post questions and get answers. Not as central to Intranet experience because they are not user friendly. Still serve a purpose.

Q from e-mail:
What advantage do blogs have over more traditional forms of information gathering? What guidelines will be put into place to make sure blogs are rich in content and are worth reading?

A: They are distinguished from other information gathering media — they aren’t about information gathering — they are primarily about people connected to other people in response to others reading them. It is about having other people read them.

Controls in place – none – this is really, really important. The control in weblogs is about other people finding you interesting.

A by Moderator: It’s remarkable getting an e-mail message saying “you’ve been blogged.”

Q from audience:
How do you feel the field of education may be changing because of blogging?

Museums are used more than every in education -

A by Robert Martin:
I would like to recast your question in terms of learning rather than education. The power of the blog is the way it empowers the development of self selecting communities of interest. This can be done at any age level. Substantial potential for supporting transfer of knowledge, learning at all stages of learning, and all stages of life, by the establishment of these self selecting communities of interest that dissolves the geographical barriers that have been the focus of education. Education, until recently, has been very geocentric, place centered. Now we face the prospect of having a global inter-connectivness that allows people to explore beyond their previous limitations of geography. How that plays out I have no idea. We are in for a real interesting ride.

A by David W:
It’s getting more interesting as education goes down the No Child Messed Around With line where testing becomes the primary objective it seems in too many of our schools. There has always been a problem with schools confusing education with filling up with facts. With the emphasis on testing it is getting much, much worse. We are still generally educating children towards taking tests and doing well as individuals while at the same time they are doing homework together using word processing and IM (instant messaging).
Blogs are being used in classrooms. Many are group blogs. In one of the best ones students are pulling in items off the news and commenting back and forth on it. What more could you want? They are doing this on their own. It’s extra credit without credit. People learning together.

A: Derrick de Kerckhove (1:17 into video)
I am fascinated by this question of education. I think it has major consequences with blogs and all the media children can use.
Changes three things at least.
1. Changes authority. Can read and question in the background. Teachers are very wary of this
2. Move to collaborative practice.
3. Build knowledge together.

A by D: Cannot rely on any blog to be trustworthy. In many ways I trust a collection of web logs more than I trust the media. They are self correcting. Frequently they go wrong, but they are self correcting.

Q: Will there be a way to help the reading know how reliable the information is?

e-mail and web logs are already a type of recommendation system. The use of a universal rating system would be useless. I am more interested in the people I know and what they think is useful.
Notes on discussion about Dean Campaign – blog got treated by people as “their blog” and they became more than one voice.
Notes on discussion of research – History student pulls together info for own purposes – example of old way of pulling info together but putting it on the web – info is made public more quickly and responded to more quickly – and made available to more people – but it’s nothing new, just faster and more available.

Q. Working hard to digitize original materials and making them available on the web. We are offering the first level of reality vs. the kind of reality in blogs which is a social reality. Where is it real and where is it not real?
A: David
I am not saying that the web is only social reality. They are intermingling. The web and web logs have certain strengths and certain form. Digitizing materials is very useful.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Craig Nansen Intro

Hello. 

My name is Craig Nansen and I have been the District Technology Coordinator for Minot Public Schools, Minot, ND for the past 20 years. I am responsible for over 4,000 computers in 18 school buildings.


I earned my Masters and Education Specialist degrees in Educational Technology from Northwestern State University in LA. My thesis was about Technology Staff Development. One of my graduate projects was to create a web site for K-12 Technology Leaders which I try to keep up to date. Lately I have changed my focus to “Craig’s TechTalk Blog,” a blog for K-12 Technology Leaders.

I am also an adjunct professor at Minot State University and have been a presenter and keynote speaker at local, state, regional and national technology conferences.

Sunday, October 3, 2004

Volcanos and Furl

With the current activity at Mount St. Helens you might want to pass these web sites on to your classroom teachers. Any teacher who covers volcanos during the year might want to consider using this “teachable moment” to cover the topic.



Volcano World (UND)
http://volcano.und.edu/

Volcano World (BrainSpace)
http://www.volcanoworld.org/

Mount St. Helens Volcano Cam
http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/

There is a new web site that people are using to bookmark their favorite web sites. This site is “Furl” and can be found athttp://www.furl.net/

You can see what web sites have been bookmarked most recently, as well as those that are most popular and are being bookmark most often. This is how I ran across the Volcano Cam web site mentioned above.

You can also search the bookmarks people have stored on Furl for any topic of interest. For example, search on the word “volcano” to find other sites that might have been bookmarked by someone.
When you find a web site that has been bookmarked, you can also find other sites bookmarked by the same people. In case your interests are the same, you will find other web sites that you might want to check out.

If you want to use Furl yourself to bookmark web sites, you need to register to get your own login and password, but there is not cost. Then simple click on the Furl link and drag it up to the menu bar in your browser. The next time you are at a web site that you want to bookmark (furl) simply click on the “furl it” option in your browser menu bar and a window will pop up (if you aren’t blocking pop ups) with the name of the site and the URL already filled in for you.

Try it out. It is a great time saver. I has keeping my favorites/bookmarks on three different computers, and on one of them I was using three different browsers each with their own favorites list. Now I am putting everything on my furl list.

The most recently furled web sites
http://www.furl.net/furled.jsp

The most comonly furled web sites in the last week
http://www.furl.net/furledPopular.jsp

My furled web sites can be found at
http://www.furl.net/members/craig_nansen

And you can check certain sub-categories by filtering. For example,
sites for teachers furled by myself.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

2004 NDATL Face to Face in Minot

The 4th annual NDATL F2F was held in Minot Sept 27&28. Over 130 technology leaders from school districts across the state attended the one and one-half day event.

As far as we are concerned, it was a successful conference and we are already planning for next year.

I tend to get the credit for hosting the event, but it is the entire* staff that really pulls this off. They are Brian Rossow (network genius), Mike Eslinger, Trent Hall, Dustin Bergrude, Kim Hunter, Andy Schafer, Jim Ahmann (food coordinator), Jennifer Kraft (slide show), KarinYancey, Sally Jenkins, Wendy Altendorf, Julie Jaeger, Phyllis Seier and Laua Untz.

(*Some of these people are part of our technology staff in spirit, such as the gifted and talented staff.)

Chris Webb needs special recognition for the work he did in helping get this conference organized, especially putting the agenda and web information together. Another special thanks to Karen Kuhnhenn who keeps us all on track and makes sure all the little details get taken care of.

The main door prizes were won by:

Karen Black, Ely Elementary Rugby, who won the iPaq donated by Connecting Point.

Kristi Serumgard, Lake Region Spec Ed won the MP3 Player donated by DakTech of Fargo

Gary Simons, Wing Public Schools won the bag of software donated by CCV Software.

Pat Holland, Linton won the $800 building site license for mPOWER 5.

The contact information for all of our sponsors will be posted on theNDATL web site.

More information can be found at the North Dakota Association of Technology Leaders web site at http://www.ndatl.k12.nd.us/